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Social media warning after UAE telemarketing crackdown

The UAE is determined to cut the number of nuisance telephone calls by bringing in strict rules for telemarketing companies Shutterstock
The UAE is determined to cut the number of nuisance telephone calls by bringing in strict rules for telemarketing companies
  • UAE to regulate cold calling
  • Fines, bans and licence suspensions
  • Telemarketers could switch channels

The days of persistent cold calls in the UAE may be numbered, thanks to a government crackdown.

However, industry experts told AGBI that the telemarketers may migrate to alternative channels such as social media platforms and WhatsApp.

The Ministry of Economy and the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority have announced new regulations to curb the nuisance of unsolicited marketing calls, with hefty fines of up to AED150,000 ($41,000). 

“Telemarketers may [now] increasingly resort to these channels, which can be just as frustrating as cold calls,” said Nigel Sillitoe, founder and CEO of the Dubai-based communications company Insight Discovery. 

“It is crucial for the UAE authorities to address this issue,” he said. 

For many UAE residents, cold calls, particularly from real estate, trading and crypto companies, have become a frequent nuisance.

Such companies operate through third-party platforms, making it difficult to identify and block the source of the nuisance calls. 

Alex Malouf, a marketing communications executive, receives telemarketing calls despite being on the UAE’s Do Not Call Registry (DNCR), a platform to protect individuals from unwanted calls. 

“It is not just annoying,” he said, “but also a waste of time for me, and lazy marketing by the brands behind it.”

The new regulations, effective from mid-August, outline clear boundaries for telemarketing activities. 

Calls will only be permitted between 9am and 6pm, and companies must obtain prior approval from authorities before engaging in such practices. 

Additionally, telemarketers are prohibited from contacting individuals who have declined a service or product or who are registered on the DNCR.

The potential consequences for violating these regulations are significant. 

Fines range from AED150,000, along with the possibility of suspension or cancellation of licences and even a year-long block on telecommunication services.

The Dubai Media Office said: “The resolutions require companies, in their marketing of products and services through phone calls, to exercise due care and diligence to avoid disturbing the consumer and to adhere to the highest standards of transparency, credibility and integrity.”

While the new measures are welcomed, residents like Malouf believe the reporting process should also be simplified. 

Currently, registering a complaint requires navigating an app, which he feels is time-consuming. Malouf suggests “a more streamlined system” for reporting offenders and quicker enforcement of fines.

A survey by Insight Discovery last year found that telemarketers, call centre operatives and credit card issuers were ranked on a list of professions with the worst reputations in the UAE. 

Sillitoe said: “For the past five years, telemarketers have consistently ranked as having one of the worst reputations, alongside other ‘professions’ notorious for cold calling, such as estate agents.”

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